Dear Atticus, some things I think you should know

fall foliage

Dear Atticus,

I can’t claim to know much of anything about being a parent, but I have worked with a lot of kids at school. I have learned a thing or two about what is really important about a person and how to pick my battles. So there are some things that I am prepared to tell you based on those years of experience.

It is important to be polite, to write thank-you notes (in fact, I delayed putting this up until all my thank-you notes from your showers were in the mail. So as to be a good example and all) and say sir and ma’am. We live in the South, and though things change over time, there is still such a thing as etiquette. And we are going to expect you to follow it.

You can wear your hair however you want, and I will not say anything. Except maybe asking you to wash it. I am big on cleanliness. I would really prefer if you kept it out of your eyes, but if you are simply trying to make a fashion statement rather than hiding yourself from the world, I can deal. I have more important things to worry about than your hair and your piercings. But if you are hurting, or hurting yourself, that’s a different story. You can expect me to get involved.

You can ask me any question, and I will answer it honestly. I wish I could promise not to laugh, but I am sorry to tell you that I might laugh sometimes. I do that, laughing when I shouldn’t. Sometimes it sounds mean when I am just enjoying things. I will try to do better. My parents never lied to me and always answered my questions. The least I can do is to try to do the same for you. Don’t be embarrassed for asking. That shows how smart you are.

I promise I will not make jokes about your music. I might not like it, but I won’t make fun of it. I would rather that you share it with me than hide it from me, would rather be the mom who takes you to concerts than the one who is too uptight to go. I want our house to be a place you are comfortable bringing your friends, and I will try to make it a place where you feel you can do that, give you enough space to be comfortable.

You are going to mess up. A lot. That’s okay. It never stops happening. Your dad and I still do it, too. We promise never to stop loving you, even when we are disappointed in your choices. We can’t promise to always take your side, because sometimes you will be wrong. But we are on your team. When you are hurting, we are hurting, too. Sometimes that fact will be lost on both of us. You will think we don’t care, and we will feel the same about you.

The truth is, though, that we are your biggest fans in the world. Even on those days when we are not. That’s what this whole list is about, really. Because we are your biggest fans, we are going to expect a lot from you.

Right now this doesn’t all mean very much, because you are still curled up inside and we are still waiting to meet you. But it helps me to know what we already know and want for you, to know what we value and how we hope to share it. Maybe some of this is impossibly naive. But the three of us can figure all of that out together.


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